My plane touched down at New York’s JFK airport on Thursday evening. In the terminal I stopped to strap my sleeping bag to the top of my pack for better weight distribution before moving on to the carousel to grab my suitcase full of pre-trip clothing, which I’ll leave here when I fly to Madrid.
I waited at the subway platform. Nearby a large family of very orthodox Jews stood. Father and sons had shaved heads except for the curls hanging from their temples. The family was entirely dressed in black. One of the daughters dutifully carried her father’s hat box; the hat on his head was like a giant fur halo in black. They spoke only Hebrew.
Another couple standing nearby spoke Italian, and another Portuguese. One girl I talked to briefly spoke hesitant English in a French accent. The diversity was a welcome reminder of where I was, and a precursor to where I will be soon.
I boarded the Manhattan-bound A Train.
It’s a bizarre feeling to be back in New York, especially when I’m in the subway cars. The sights and sounds seem to cut through the years making it feel as though I were here just a few days before. I love the mix of people on the subways. The different languages and accents and clothing; the rhythm of drummers playing in one station and the tones of the trombone in another.
New York City is vibrant in the way that only a place where people prefer to travel on foot can be. To see that in Los Angeles you have to find spots like Venice Beach. The world is more interesting when you aren’t forced to go everywhere by car.
I spent the first two nights in the guest room in the apartment of one of my very best friends and his fiance, in Brooklyn. Danny and Joanna. I can’t wait to be a groomsman at their wedding a year from now. Danny is one of my oldest friends (middle school, high school, and college) and one of the people I’d walk through fire for, and I know he’d do the same. His bride-to-be is whip-smart and a sweetheart, and they’re great together.
I also met with another of my very best friends from California, Mikki. She and I worked together at Rhythm & Hues in 2009. She moved to Connecticut last year to work for Blue Sky. We grabbed lunch and then walked through Central Park, Rockefeller Center, and Bryant Park, and later Danny and I met her and another great friend and former coworker, Chris, at a bar on 85th and 2nd, where a big group from Blue Sky was enjoying a night out.
As I’m writing this I sit in the apartment of my sister and brother-in-law, Meredith and Jon. Meredith is pregnant, due in September. I’m going to be Uncle Daniel — how about that! We ate a gigantic lunch at Katz’s Deli with two of their friends whom I first met at their wedding, then we toured the New School building that Jon designed. I should mention that he and my sister are kick-ass architects, on whom Ted Mosby has nothing.
With all that’s happening the Camino begins to feel like something distant, even though it’s now more immediate than ever. The weather out of Saint Jean Pied de Port is looking pretty bad for this coming Saturday, when I’m expecting to begin my walk. Yes, this coming Saturday. I fly to Madrid this Wednesday. As distracted as I am by everything, the walk will be starting in the blink of an eye. If the weather outlook doesn’t improve I might have to spend an extra night in SJPdP. We’ll see.
Editing photos on this tablet is proving to be challenging. I’ll have to keep things very basic. But constraints can be a good thing.